Progressive Relaxation Exercise

This is post #3 in the 31 posts in 31 days challenge!  

Progressive Relaxation is a fantastic process to learn.  You can use progressive relaxation to reduce stress, pin-point and prevent muscle tension, relieve muscle tension, fight insomnia and help with anxiety.  It is a simple process that requires you to slow down and focus on each different muscle group slowly.  By taking the time to focus and exert control over your muscles, over time you may be able to notice when you are holding tension in certain areas when you are working.  Maybe you shrug and tense your shoulders when you are angry.  You might clench your teeth and jaws while typing a report.  The sooner you notice these things the sooner you can relieve the tension and hopefully prevent or reduce painful symptoms.

I found the following Progressive Relaxation Exercise at Natural Touch Marketing.  I use the exercise myself and I recommend it to my clients.

Lie down or sit in a chair, wherever you are comfortable.  You will tense and hold each body part for about 10 seconds and then release it completely for at least 10 seconds.  Count to yourself silently from one to ten.

1. Clench your right fist, tighten the right arm and hold them tight.  Completely relax them, and then clench again.  Relax.  Now clench and relax your left arm in the same manner.  Now observe how your hands and arms feel.

2. Stretch your right leg out.  Draw the toes of the right foot toward the knee, tighten the whole leg, and hold.  Relax and then stretch and tighten again.  Relax completely.  Now do the left leg.  Now point the toes of the right foot, tense and hold.  Relax.  Left leg next.  Relax completely and observe how your legs feel.

3. Draw together the shoulder blades.  Tense and hold.  Relax completely and tense them again.  Relax.

4. Exhale and pull the abdomen in tightly and hold.  Inhale, and relax completely.  Again exhale and pull the abdomen in tightly and hold.  Inhale and relax.  Now observe how your back, chest and abdomen feel.

5. Tighten the muscles around your eyes and mouth, and hold.  Relax and repeat.  Relax completely.

6. Now breathe and observe your body.  Notice how you feel.  Do you feel differently?

This is great for those times you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep.  I also recommend doing this exercise regularly when trying to figure out why a certain muscle group always hurts or becomes tense.  Try it and tell us what you think!